April 12, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

Often a defendant is accused in one criminal complaint of many different crimes. A very powerful weapon in many cases is for your experienced California criminal defense attorney to bring a motion to sever the cases so you can receive separate trials. Jurors often will tend to want to convict a defendant just because of the number of criminal charges. Also in many cases, the prosecutor will attempt to have a jury find a defendant guilty of one crime (with weak evidence) due to the jury hearing about another alleged crime where the evidence against the defendant is stronger.

In a recent case, an accused was charged with indecent exposure in one count, and in a totally separate incident was charged with sexual assault as a felony.

The defense lawyer filed a motion to sever the trials to prevent the same jury from hearing both cases. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant was convicted of all charges. On appeal, the experienced criminal appeals attorney in California argued that the defendant’s motion to sever should have been granted.

The California Court of Appeals agreed and reversed all convictions in the case and granted the defendant a new trial.

In People vs. Earle, 2009 DJDAR 4233 the court held that the trial judge had “abused his discretion” in denying the motion for separate trials, and that while a trial courts has broad discretion in this case, the decision was so “grossly unfair” as to deny defendants right to due process of law.

What is critical to understand is that if you do not retain a skilled California criminal defense law firm who knows when to make a motion to sever, then it will never happen. If this motion to sever had not been made at the trial court level then it would have likely been waived as an appellate issue on appeal. In this case due to the excellent work of trial counsel, the defendant will now be entitled to two separate trials. The jury in each trial will not be able to hear about evidence from the other case. There is a good chance this will lead to a different result for the defendant.

When you are facing a criminal charge, contact Wallin and Klarich toll free at 888.280.6839 or go to wklaw.com and email us so we can help you. You should always consult with an experienced criminal defense law firm when your freedom is at stake.

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